As I look back at 2019 and ahead to 2020, two words come to mind: optimism and impatience. I am optimistic because, in my view, our profession is limited only by our imagination in the years ahead, and our willingness to accept and embrace our role as leaders. I am impatient because we no longer have the luxury of time to meet the challenges we face, including improving social equality, expanding economic opportunity, adapting to and mitigating climate change, and embracing equity, diversity, and inclusion in the profession.

The good news is that we are focused on these issues like never before, and we have a unique set of talents and a demonstrated passion for the built environment that will help lead to a more equitable, compassionate, and sustainable society. But we should remember that success in any one of these areas requires a sustained focus on all of them, because they are as interconnected as we are.

After all, the focus on environmental stewardship isn’t just about reducing the environmental impact of the built world. It is ultimately about ensuring that everyone has access to structures that protect their health, safety, and welfare in a rapidly changing climate, regardless of their socioeconomic condition, race, gender, or the hemisphere in which they live.

Success requires that the people in the design studio who create those structures reflect the rich and growing diversity of our society. Success requires that the path—from undergraduate to seasoned professional—will mirror 21st-century values, including efficiency, diversity, inclusivity, and transparency. Ultimately, for architecture and architects to thrive in an ever more sophisticated, diverse, and challenging world, the creativity, perspective, talent, and leadership of everyone will be essential.

Together, we can ensure that the next generation of architects can accomplish what we can’t even conceive of today. I want them to see our profession as being central to advancing positive social change. I want those who will follow us to look back and say that we did our best to live by the values that we espouse. I want them to know that we lived by the words of the late Senator Paul Wellstone: “Never separate the life you live from the words you speak.”

I am optimistic about our future because I see how this profession is working to successfully meet the challenges of our time. Our successes and commitment today reinforce my faith that there is nothing we can’t do, and there is no problem that we can’t solve, together.